By Andy Diestelkamp
For the last century
a sexual revolution has been taking place in our culture. This
is not all bad. The subject of human sexuality is not at all
foreign to the Word of God. Neither is Scripture's handling of
this topic limited to a bunch of "thou shalt nots."
However, there are many who, not liking the Scripture's clear
limitations on sexual expression, prefer to characterize the
Holy Bible as, at best, hopelessly out of touch with the present
culture and, at worst, oppressive and hateful.
Yet these people forget
that Jesus and His disciples came with the gospel into the culture
of the Roman Empire which, if compared to our own, would likely
make our culture look rather sexually tame. In other words, the
message of God's Word was presented to a culture that was much
more libertine in its sexual mores than is our own. If the high
ideals of God's plan for human behavior were not softened for
the immoral culture of the first century, then there can certainly
be no cultural argument for softening it now. The fact is, the
Scriptures do not have archaic values but values which transcend
time and culture.
The Scriptures not only
permit sexual activity; they promote it and command it (Gen.
1:28; 2:24; 9:1; Prov. 5:15-19; Song of Solomon; Matt. 19:4-6;
1 Cor. 7:1-9). The reason the Bible is vilified by the sexual
libertines of our culture is that the Scriptures are equally
clear that the sexual activity that God authorizes is limited
to the husband/wife relationship of marriage. Indeed, marriage
is honorable and the bed is undefiled, but any sexual union outside
the committed relationship of marriage is fornication (immoral
sex) and is condemned (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9,10).
God has always made it
clear that He is holy, His Word is holy, and we must be holy
(1 Pet. 1:15,16) if we are to have fellowship with Him. Though
our physical bodies are created of the same elements which comprise
the rest of God's creation (Gen. 2:7; 3:19), we are distinctly
superior to the plants and animals. We are created in God's image
(Gen. 1:26,27). While sex is a natural physical behavior, God
expects us to control our flesh with the spirit that is in His
image. When we act on our physical urges without the control
of the spirit, then we behave like animals rather than humans
(Gal. 5:16-25). That is not holy.
Sexual activity outside
of marriage dishonors God's will for man. Certainly humans are
capable of copulating with whomever, whatever, whenever; but
such behavior is not holy. While it might be understandable
that those who reject God would resort to sexual activity that
is as promiscuous as the animals from which they believe they
evolved, professing Christians cannot endorse such immoral behavior,
no matter how it is labeled (1 Cor. 6:13-20).
It is becoming popular
among many who profess faith in God to redefine everything from
marriage to love. A favorite argument in the current debate over
homosexuality is to observe that Jesus never condemned homosexuality.
While at first glance that may appear formidable, it crumbles
when it is observed that He also never specifically condemned
polygamy, prostitution, pedo-philia, or numerous other specific
sexual relationships. When a debated position finds its strongest
argument in what Jesus never specifically condemned, then it
is indeed weak; for authority to act is not found in the absence
The toleration of heterosexual
sin has opened the door for the toleration of homosexual sin.
If we are going to ignore the standard of God's Word, then there
is absolutely nothing to stop the continued degradation of human
sexuality to the level of animals in all respects. God has called
us to a higher and holier standard. That some (or even most)
people refuse to acknowledge or abide by that standard does not
change that standard. As a society we may amend our laws to suit
the will (or whim) of the people, but this does not change the
The opposition to sexual
immorality is not rooted in hatred or some sort of phobia. It
is rooted in respect for the authority of God's Word and His
divine order. As Creator, He knows what is best for His creation.
To disrespect God's design, order, and revelation is to disrespect
Him and is certainly not holy. Elevating our lusts to being as
acceptable and valid as God's Word is exactly what Eve did in
the garden (Gen. 3:6).
It does not matter how
many times lust is called love; it does not make it love. The
cavalier warping of the meaning of love is being used in an attempt
to justify all kinds of perverse behavior. Sexual immorality
is not love (1 Cor. 6:13,18). God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). He defines
love and He defines what is morally upright.
While the foregoing absolute
statements are enough to exasperate those who wish to have the
sexual freedom of animals, such people have no basis on which
to object to any kind of sexual expression, consensual or otherwise.
The inability to see beyond their own lusts have them sowing
the wind and reaping a whirlwind (Hos. 8:7). That observation
in not motivated by hate but by love combined with hope that
beings created in the image of God might come to see the folly
in ignoring the will of God.
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
IF NOAH, DANIEL
AND JOB WERE IN AMERICA
By Al Diestelkamp
The Lord sent
a message through the prophet Ezekiel warning, "when a land
sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch
out My hand against it" (Ezk. 14:13). Jehovah had been very
longsuffering in His dealings with Israel, but He wanted them
to know that if they despised His past blessings by persisting
in idolatry, the Hand that had protected them would turn and
When reading this, I couldn't
help but think of my own beloved nation. Who could possibly deny
that God has richly blessed America? With a rich history spanning
over two hundred years, we may be tempted to expect God's continued
blessings regardless of our "idolatries." It's time
to wake up and understand that "Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34).
Don't get me wrong, our
nation has always had its flaws, some of which were rather grievous.
We may have succeeded in removing some of our national sins over
the years, but like Israel of old, "the high places were
not removed" (i.e., 1 Ki. 15:14). America is quite proud
of the fact that slavery was abolished, and that progress has
been made in racial relations, but these have been replaced by
acceptance of other abominable sins.
Can we rightfully expect
Almighty God to continue to send showers of blessings on a nation
that flaunts and promotes immorality? Our nation claims to be
"under God," and yet those who are trying to remove
any reference to God (other than in profanity) are having their
way in the laws and courts of our land.
A nation that claims to favor "justice for all" should
not expect God's approval when it gives women who are "unloving"
(Rom. 1:31) the "right to choose" the murdering of
innocent unborn children. Nor are we endearing ourselves to God
with attempts to justify what He has condemned. Forces are at
work to redefine marriage to include lifestyles that God calls
"shameful" (Rom. 1:27). Of course, this perversion
comes only after respect for God's marriage laws has already
eroded through our nation's acceptance of premarital "living
arrangements" and divorce for any cause.
God has been willing to
spare whole cities for the sake of a few righteous people. Abraham
tried to negotiate a deal with God on behalf of Sodom, the wicked
city where his nephew Lot was living (Gen. 18:22-33). As few
as ten righteous souls could have spared Sodom. Lacking ten,
angels transported "righteous Lot" (2 Pet. 2:7) and
his family out of that wicked environment just before God rained
down brimstone and fire.
Perhaps God has spared
America because of the relatively few righteous souls within
her. Also, the freedoms of speech and religion, which have provided
an environment suitable for the spread of the gospel, may be
why "God shed His grace" on America.
Past mercy on our nation
does not necessarily insure future mercy. There is a limit to
God's patience. This is illustrated in God's pronouncements against
the inhabitants of His holy city, Jerusalem, whose idolatry persisted
even after God had blessed them. God was so angry that He declared,
"Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,
they would deliver neither son not daughter; they would deliver
only themselves by their righteousness" (Ezk. 14:20). To
me, the implication in this statement is that the presence of
righteous men could normally turn God's wrath away, but Jerusalem
had become so vile that even these righteous men would not save
There may come a time,
if America persists in unfaithfulness, that even the likes of
Noah, Daniel and Job will not deter God's judgment on the nation.
However, the good news is that "the Lord is very compassionate
and merciful" (Jas. 5:11). Also, He is "slow to anger,
and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm" (Joel
We, as His people have
an opportunity to help our nation by being the "salt"
and "light" our savior called us to be (Matt. 5:13-16).
Indeed, the greatest service you can give to your nation is to
"Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good" (Rom. 12:9).
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P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
We are sometimes
fooled by externals into thinking we (or others) are what we
are not, or doing what we are not. Reading salves our conscience
because we think we are studying--but we're not, we are just
reading. We do good, deep Bible study, but don't do enough (or
often enough) to remember what we learned. A good memory sometimes
passes for deep spiritual knowledge, when it is only the ability
to recite Scripture. Knowledge and understanding are necessary,
but are fruitless without wisdom--the ability to see practical
applications. And wisdom fails when consistent application is
not made, when complete and consistent obedience doesn't follow.
...we must be investigating and thinking when we read
...we must make what we learn part of us
...we must do more than remember facts, it must change how we
...we must want and try to understand what we know from Scripture
...we must look for and find proper real life applications
...we must actually apply God's will to ourselves and others
and complete obedience...
...we must not pick and choose what and when we will obey
The above is true in any
field of learning, but never more true than in our growth in
the "knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Pet.
1:2). Don't stop until you have them all!
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60506
That's What We Pay You to Do
By Keith Barclay
It is with great trepidation
that I undertake this writing. I serve as both an elder and an
evangelist. I think this gives me a unique perspective to talk
about this issue. I trust objectivity is achieved and truth illuminated.
What is to be the relationship between the local assembly of
believers and those she supports? Would we treat an elder worthy
of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17) the same way we do preachers? There
are few men who are serving as shepherds who receive support
for such, but it is certainly authorized by scripture (1 Tim.
5:18). Do we make a distinction in roles and thus a distinction
in how we view the relationship?
There seems to be wide
diversity of thought on this issue. There are those, like myself,
who could not expect any better relationship than that which
I currently share with the brethren in Normal, Illinois. There
are others who have either been mistreated, or have mistreated
those who trusted them. As a result, both the preacher and the
congregation find themselves a little skittish and apprehensive
when it comes to defining and implementing the relationship between
That a financial relationship
may exist between the two is readily seen from numerous texts
(Phil. 4:15ff; 1 Cor. 9:13f; 2 Cor. 11:8; Gal. 6:6). That is
not the focus of this article. What I desire for us to look at
is the approach we take with regard to preachers and their work.
Let me say that there is certainly latitude regarding all of
the particulars of how a congregation and the preacher work out
their arrangement. I am not addressing such, but want to focus
my attention upon the "big picture" and the attitudes
I find to be healthy and beneficial for all concerned. Above
all, I believe they are biblical.
It seems that in a number
of situations that a "business model" has become the
norm. While I do not deny that there are business aspects to
the functioning of a local congregation, the local congregation
is not a business. In much the same way that the church has organization,
but is more than an organization--it is a living organism (a
body, a bride, a kingdom, etc.)--the church does some business,
but is far more than a business. That should be reflected in
its relationship with preachers and elders who are supported
for the sake of the work that they do.
While we speak of budgets and bills (both of which are business
issues) we will also speak of fellowship, partnership, working
together and submitting to one another when it comes to the relationships
we share with preachers and elders. How do we view those who
have devoted their life to the preaching of the gospel? Our attitude
toward them and their attitude toward their work (I know, this
sounds awfully like a business word) needs to fit the Lord's
model rather than the successful business model of the day.
The preacher is not the
"Public Relations" man of the group. He is not the
"cheerleader." Neither is he the one who must rescue
the children, nor spin a yarn to entertain visitors, so they
will be enticed to return.
Despite the "That's
what we pay you to do" approach of some, he is not a taxi
service, or a delivery boy or the "official hospital visitor."
While he certainly should, as a fellow believer, share in those
legitimate things we are all to do, they are not a part of the
Lord's job description for the work he is called to do. (This
list could easily be expanded but borrowing from the apostle
Paul's approach in Galatians 5:21 allow "and things like
His work is to "Preach
the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke
and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."
(2 Tim. 4:2 NIV). It will involve study, "Do your best to
present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not
need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
(2 Tim. 2:15 NIV).
The congregation, in providing
financial support, is enabling a brother to do what scripture
defines as his work in this regard. Are there men who will take
advantage of such a situation? Sadly, yes. But the solution is
not a "business model" that requires more paperwork
than the IRS. The solution is accountability with him just like
with any other member of the congregation. Com-munication, constant
and consistent, are far more valuable than confrontation, conten-tion
If you treat the preacher
or elders as "hirelings" (Jn. 10:12f), do not be surprised
when they behave in that manner. Those of us who preach need
to do everything we can not to give brethren pause about supporting
another man after we leave. Nor should our work habits be so
poor that the next brother must endure an unprofitable, if not
ungodly, approach by the congregation toward him and his work.
If you recognize the partnership
you share and what a source of encouragement you can be, I am
convinced the difference in the quality and quantity of the service
rendered by your preacher or shepherds will be readily evidenced.
Let's all take a fresh
look at what the New Testament says regarding the relationship
between the preacher and the congregation and the supporting
of elders. It may have a rather refreshing outcome.
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2415 Grey Fox Trail, Bloomington, Illinois 61705
'You Are Out of
By Steve Fontenot
When the apostle
Paul stood before King Agrippa and the Roman governor, Festus,
endeavoring to persuade them concerning the resurrection of Christ
from the dead, Festus "said in a loud voice, 'Paul, you
are out of your mind!'" (Ac. 26:24). Maybe he thought saying
it loudly would add force to what he said, for he certainly did
not show where what Paul said was irrational. Maybe he was just
upset. Evidently what Paul said was new, and sounded strange
to him (25:19,20). This, however, was no reason for rejecting
it as incredible. What Paul said was not only rational, it was
How do we react when we
hear something relative to the will of God that is new to us
and sounds strange? Maybe it is so far out it is not worthy of
further attention. But, we must be careful...that's what Festus
thought. How do we decide? We could weigh the evidence. But,
that re-quires work (thinking). And, it may require change...big
changes. That may be fearful.
A much easier course is
simply to say, "that's crazy!" and dismiss it. It may
not be a new approach, but it eases our consciences and influences
our friends not to listen (what would happen if they were persuaded...?)
Paul responded, "I
am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words
of sober truth" (v. 25). How true and how sober Festus will
discover with certainty in judgment!
Road, Humble, TX 77396
ABOUT PINK ELEPHANTS
Back in 2005 a Federal
Court of Appeals declared Atheism a religion. Recently some atheists
exercised their status as a religion, to force the governor of
State of Washington to allow them to put up a 41/2-foot-tall
sign declaring that there is no God and that "religion is
but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
You will notice from the wording of their sign that while claiming
to be a "religion" they proclaim "religion"
to be a "myth and superstition."
They can propagate this
conflicting message in good conscience because they do not consider
themselves to be in the religious category of "myth and
superstition." They know something that the federal government
doesn't know: that they are not a religion. They just use their
status as a religion to harass those who are actually religious.
According to Webster,
the word "religion" is a combination of the prefix
"re," meaning "back" as in "repay"
or "pay back," and "ligare," meaning "to
bind together." In its strict sense religion is only descriptive
of those who are "binding themselves back" to God.
Atheists do not try to
"bind back," but attempt to separate themselves from
God by expressing their belief that there is no God. They are
not "for" anything; they are only "against."
They demonstrate sincerity to their philosophy by demeaning religious
people who are binding themselves back to God. Since they claim
not to believe in God's existence it would be foolish for their
enlightened minds to harass God. Their total existence is dependent
on the existence of religious people. Without religious people
what would be their point?
Atheists' denial of God
reminds me of the little boy who ate a piece of chocolate cake
that he was not supposed to eat. When his mother found him playing
in the next room, before she could say a word he looked up with
chocolate on his face and proclaimed: "I didn't eat any
cake." If he wasn't involved in eating any cake then why
did he feel the need to deny it?
If there is no God why
should an Atheist say anything? Minds and hearts are hardened
and enslaved by such things as money, work, nature, television,
etc., that give purpose or enjoyment to life. Why should they
care what you choose to believe in.? I doubt that Atheists believe
in pink elephants, but you don't see them proclaiming their a-pink-elephant-istic
views to the world. If Atheists were truly consistent with their
philosophy they would be very busy disclaiming all the things
they deny exist. They could then harass excessively inebriated
souls who believe in pink elephants, and children who believe
Their reason for proclaiming
there is no God is only relevant if they truly believe there
is a God. An analysis of the motive for the Atheistic philosophy
clearly shows their rationality of action exist only in their
underlining belief that there is a God to deny. To quote Sir
Francis Bacon "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind
to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about
If Atheists continue developing
their philosophy with integrity to themselves, eventually they
will conclude that the existence of a true Atheist is based not
on rational thought or science but on necessity of self delusion
for the purpose of self justification. God simply says: "The
fool has said in his heart, there is no God," (Psa. 14:1).
2647 E. 200 N Road, Pana, Illinois 62557
GOING ON 40
With this issue of Think we mark the beginning of our
40th year of publication (obviously less as a web site presence).
When we first began this labor of love in 1969 we never envisioned
that we would still be publishing in 2009. We are humbled, and
also encouraged, by the many expressions of appreciation for
our efforts from readers all over the world. It is our hope that
this paper has been-and will continue to be-beneficial to many,
and a glory to God. - Al Diestelkamp